Posted April 15, 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: View helpful resources at the end of this post.
By CARLY HOPPER, Campus Rec Program Coordinator of Fitness, Wellness, and Special Programs
With so much going on in the world right now it is essential to practice self-care. Spending time on social media, Netflix binges, playing on your Nintendo Switch, working on homework, and Zoom happy hours with friends are great ways to pass time and social distance.
Learning a new skill or brushing up on skills you have may be stress-relieving. For example, you do not need anything to try a meditation practice, yoga, or an at-home workout.
Meditation does not have to be 20 minutes of still sitting on the cold ground not thinking – good luck with that. Our mind does not like to be quiet – but, we can practice bringing moments of quiet into our life.
‘Practicing meditation is like teaching a puppy to sit. At first, the puppy has no desire to sit…. Eventually, with training, the puppy will sit and stay. Meditation is the same thing. We train our mind and our body to sit, be still, and quiet.’CARLY HOPPER
Practicing meditation is like teaching a puppy to sit. At first, the puppy has no desire to sit or if it does sit for a moment it sees something then runs off. As puppy owners, we try again, and again, and again to get the puppy to sit.
Eventually, with training, the puppy will sit and stay. Meditation is the same thing. We train our mind and our body to sit, be still, and quiet.
We may need to try again, and again, and again to be still and quiet, just like the puppy. With practice, it gets easier.
Meditation may help you bring awareness to what is going on in your life without trying to change it or solve it right now.
It can bring mental clarity and emotional positivity to a situation. We practice observing and accepting our thoughts without judgment. It is a way to learn to free yourself from traditional or reactive responses.
It can be grounding – a way to feel safe and comfortable in your own body and mind when everything else around you seems to be unsteady.
It is a way to make friends with yourself and encourage your mind into a calm and peaceful place. It can’t be forced – but, with practice, it will get easier to sit for five minutes and simply breath.
Meditation may lower blood pressure, body temperature, and breathing rates – all relaxing effects. You do not need anything to meditate and no prior experience is necessary.
Yoga is an excellent way to combine breathing, body movement, and relaxation.
Some yoga classes are physically challenging and sweaty, others are more relaxed and easy-flowing or with static postures.
‘Yoga encourages you to move your body while listening to it and breathing all at the same time.’CARLY HOPPER
Yoga is a way of life for many people. In our western culture, we tend to look at it more for the physical benefits such as balance, flexibility, strength, and relaxation. Regardless of what type of yoga class you practice make sure it is a good fit for you.
Yoga isn’t about the hardest pose you can do or the hardest pose you can watch the instructor do, or if you can touch your toes.
Yoga is about what you learn on the way down to touch your toes. It brings personal body awareness while you move in a non-harming way. Yoga encourages you to move your body while listening to it and breathing all at the same time.
Plus, at the end of yoga practice, all you need to do is lay down and rest.
Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated. You do not have to believe in any sort of religion to practice yoga. Yoga welcomes everybody and every body to move in a way that is complimentary to the individual.
There are many other forms of exercise that can be done when the gym is closed.
Go for a walk outside, find a hill and walk up and down it, go for a bike ride, do walking lunges down the driveway, go on Pinterest and search a HIIT workout, check out the Campus Rec social media sites for exercise videos and ideas you can do at home with no equipment.
Exercise in general, can increase your heart rate, enhance mental and physical health, strengthen your bones and muscles, and improve your sleep. Any form of exercise expends energy and breaks up the binge-watching of Tiger King on Netflix.
Reach for your shoes and go for a 10-minute walk before reaching for more Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels. Unless your roommate eats the pretzels, they will be there for you after you enjoyed fresh air and a walk.
- A meditation app I use almost daily is Insight Timer. I use the free version and there are many free meditations. I like that I can search by time. I never felt the need to purchase the full app. Just another resource.
- My YouTube channel with personal made meditations, yoga and exercise videos.
- Free Guided Meditations from UCLA Semel Institute Mindful Awareness Research Center with 5-minute Breathing Meditation (available in English or Spanish, available to play the sound, print the transcript, play on iTunes)
- Calm App: Sleep Stories (some free options and some paid options)
- Spotify: Get Sleepy: Sleep Meditations and Stories
- Down Dog (free options now through July 1 for students!) Down Dog creates a unique, personalized yoga practice based on your time, level, focus, voice, and music.
Carly Hopper has been in the health, wellness, and fitness industry for over 25 years. She has a passion for teaching yoga all around the globe, spending time with her family, and enjoys the outdoors. She is the Fitness and Wellness Program Coordinator in Campus Recreation at MSU, Mankato and is a yoga instructor at Sun Moon Yoga in Mankato.